In the latest case of a conservative news outlet being targeted by editors on Wikipedia, an editor with a history of defending the violent left-wing Antifa group and smearing Antifa critic Andy Ngo on the site initiated a discussion on getting the Post Millenial banned using smears against Ngo, an editor for the outlet, in the opening post of the discussion. While not outright banned, Post-Millennial was formally declared “unreliable” on Wikipedia.
Pro-Antifa editing and smearing of Andy Ngo, who has been subjected to violent assaults from the group, has been a long-running problem on Wikipedia with editors slanting or censoring Antifa-related content regularly up to this month. The banning or limiting of conservative outlets has been another ongoing problem on the site, while left-wing outlets such as CNN and MSNBC have been protected by editors.
The discussion on banning the Post Millenial was started by editor “BeŻet” in late July. One of the reasons given by BeŻet to support banning the outlet was the fact one of its editors is Andy Ngo, who he accused of spreading hoaxes and misinformation. BeŻet has a long history of smearing Ngo on Wikipedia by accusing him of spreading hoaxes, which includes suggesting Ngo misrepresented a confrontation between Antifa and its opponents because an opponent who was attacked with a hammer by Antifa had originally used the hammer himself to defend someone from an Antifa attack.
Recent attempts by BeŻet to smear Ngo include trying to label him a “right-wing troll” on his Wikipedia page and accusing Ngo of misrepresenting protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. Particularly, BeŻet claimed Ngo relayed a witness report “refuted” by officials alleging businesses were being extorted in the now-defunct “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” protestors established in Seattle. Officials only claimed the account was unconfirmed. At the Floyd protest article, BeŻet gutted material alleging protestor violence and expanded police violence allegations. He also downplayed Antifa involvement, while emphasizing alleged far-right involvement. Such edits aided broader agenda-pushing on Wikipedia regarding the protests and Black Lives Matter.
BeŻet’s claim of Ngo “spreading hoaxes” was met with opposition from editor “Sphilbrick” who stated the claim was not supported by sources considered reliable on Wikipedia and therefore ran afoul of the site’s policies on claims about living people. In response, the hammer incident was cited as one example against Ngo and the Post Millenial, though Sphilbrick noted the cited article did not claim Ngo’s reports were hoaxes. Unsatisfied, the editor sought to remove the claims against Ngo, prompting a fight or “edit war” as other editors restored the claim. While it was kept with “hoaxes” struck out, Sphilbrick noted what remained was still unsourced, but no further changes were made.
Aside from smears against Ngo, other arguments against the Post Millenial included them unwittingly publishing opinion pieces from fake personas that backed the agenda of the United Arab Emirates and criticized Qatar, though outlets Wikipedia considers reliable such as the Jerusalem Post and South China Morning Post were similarly fooled. Post-Millenial’s coverage of an Austin, Texas, shooting at a protest was also cited because they mistakenly reported a protestor fired first when the shooter instead fired because a gun was pointed at him. The last claim was that the outlet misrepresented arson as the main cause of Australian bushfires, though the BBC has cited Australian researchers who corroborate the allegation.
Editors appeared divided on the outlet in early discussion of the ban proposal. One noted an instance where the Post Millennial was inaccurate involved breaking news reporting, and stated what mattered is whether they issue corrections. Another stated Post Millennial was only used for uncontroversial information and so action was not warranted. When an editor cited Media Bias/Fact Check as assessing Post Millennial’s reporting was mostly factual, another editor insisted that the site was not reliable for assessing accuracy based on past discussions dominated by left-wing editors and claimed it was “self-published” despite having writing and research teams.
In subsequent voting and discussion on the ban proposal, other editors weighed in to argue the Post Millennial was unreliable, but not worthy of an outright ban. Some editors argued Post Millennial is a fairly new source and they should wait before considering a ban. Another common objection was that the case presented was insufficient to meet the standard for even declaring the site unreliable. Several cited BeŻet’s deceitful allegations against Ngo as part of their reason for rejecting the proposal. While a majority did favor a ban, the administrator who closed the discussion found there was only sufficient support to declare Post Millennial “unreliable” as a source on Wikipedia under the site’s standards for consensus.
While being declared “unreliable” on Wikipedia is short of a ban, the effect is essentially the same as it means Post Millennial cannot be cited as a source for any factual claims. The outlet is the latest conservative news outlet to be barred or restricted on Wikipedia. Editors have been increasingly banning conservative media in the past few years, a process started with the Daily Mail. Breitbart itself was banned in 2018 and, as with Post Millennial, the discussion started with false claims, by administrator Guy Chapman, about the outlet “admitting” to spreading fake news. In July, editors even downgraded Fox News, formally discouraging any use of the outlet on political topics.
Left-wing media, meanwhile, are protected. After Fox News was downgraded, similar discussions were started about CNN and MSNBC. Each was swarmed by left-wing editors and closed within a day approving both sources, despite some editors citing MSNBC’s extreme bias and past misrepresentations. Such discussions typically last a month. David Gerard, the administrator backing both closes, previously called for banning Fox News. In a 2013 case before Wikipedia’s Arbitration Committee, likened to a Supreme Court, Gerard was sanctioned for abusing administrative privileges to advance a political agenda. Another recent discussion deemed CNN reliable for criticizing Fox News, a competitor, though the Fox decision means the reverse would likely not be allowed.
Attacks on the Post Millennial and Ngo also continue a history of pro-Antifa editing on Wikipedia where editors have downplayed Antifa violence and attacked critics. In addition to BeŻet, vandals and others have also smeared Ngo, including after the Floyd protests and his decision to sue members of Antifa for a vicious assault he endured last year. Editors backing Antifa have also censored mention of the assault on Ngo and other violent incidents from articles on Antifa, a practice which has continued up to this month.
Campaigns by Wikipedia editors in support of Antifa and opposition to conservative media reflect a left-wing bias on Wikipedia that its own co-founder has criticized. Analyses of Wikipedia have shown the site’s articles on American politicians mostly cite left-wing media as sources and left-wing outlets are generally the most-cited sources on the site, with The Guardian being third among all media outlets cited. Many of these media sources have also relied on Wikipedia for information as have academic sources and Big Tech, with them even spreading hoaxes created on Wikipedia.
T. D. Adler edited Wikipedia as The Devil’s Advocate. He was banned after privately reporting conflict of interest editing by one of the site’s administrators. Due to previous witch-hunts led by mainstream Wikipedians against their critics, Adler writes under an alias.